Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mychael Knight RIP

So sad to hear of the too-soon passing of Mychael Knight (1978-2017) here in Atlanta. You may recall his appearances on an early season of Project Runway, as well as Project Runway All Stars. He was voted fan-favorite.



I was lucky enough to meet him briefly at Charleston Fashion Week 5 years ago. I asked if he would allow a picture to which he responded, "of course." He seemed to be a kind, gentle soul with little ego.



I send good karma and prayers to those left behind who mourn for him. He was a very talented guy.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Another Hadley


So I went stash-diving for fabric to make the Grainline Archer shirt and came across this cotton border print from Gail K in Atlanta. It's been languishing in stash long enough now to be considered free. That's how it works. I've had it long enough to forget how much I paid for it, so it's free.



I would have used this for the Archer shirt but, alas, not enough fabric. That's another reason why I like Grainline's Hadley shirt. And the Hadley is really a nice pattern for a border print. I did not have enough to cut both sleeves from the white border, so one is solid black. As is often the case, this is actually better than it would have been if I'd had enough fabric.



As I mentioned in my previous post, this is a simple make so it should have gone smoothly. And it did with just one or two glitches.



The wrong side of this fabric is not noticeable until you attach the shoulders using French seams, and finish the neckline with self-fabric bias binding. Then it's real noticeable.



Also I found it relatively easy to sew the hem facing up-side-down. I swear, I'm going to go back and add some notches to the top of the facing so I don't fight that battle again.



Here's something I missed on Hadley #1: you use only the outer two notches when forming the inverted pleat in back. I am guessing I would have noticed that sooner if I had used the provided facings. This pleat is deeper and prettier, I think. To help it keep its shape, I stitched the inside fold of the pleat about 1/8" from the fold.




I made the same changes to this Hadley as the previous - bias binding for finishing the neckline and sleeve hems, cut both front and back on the fold, and I shortened the sleeves by 2" (!).



I think I like this Hadley even better than the first one, maybe because of this fabric. It's a cotton lawn and a tad sheer so I may need a cami underneath.

Next up: Grainline's Archer shirt. I have it cut out already.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Grainline Hadley



The newest pattern from Grainline Studios is a super simple shirt pattern called the Hadley. There are two views - a sleeveless (deep) V neck version and a long-sleeved jewel neck version with a pleat in the back. I made the long-sleeved version.



Both versions feature a slight high-low arrangement with the back about 4 inches longer. The front is fairly stright but the back angles out to create an overall A-line shape.


Both versions also include lots of facings - facings for the neckline, facings for the sleeve hems, and a facing for the body hem. I cut out all the facings but, in the end, decided to bind the neckline and sleeve hems. I do like the use of a facing on the shirt hem. This is a loose fit and needs the deep facing to ground it, I think.


The binding and facing fabric is a blue and black window pane plaid with a white background, left overs from another shirt. I think it adds a little something to the overall look. Or, it may have taken it into pajama territory. The proof is in the wearing.



I cut off about 2 inches from the sleeves. This is unusual for me. I often add 1/2 inch to long-sleeved patterns. I think that maybe the idea is for it to pool at the wrist? It's hard to determine the intent from various pictures of the Hadley online. I'm assuming the model is 6 feet tall so it hits her at the wrist, but reviewers on Pattern Review have also mentioned that the sleeves are quite long.

These sleeves have an inch cut from them. After this picture I cut another inch from them.
The Hadley has a center front seam and a center back seam. Each follows the grainline. Normally I like extra vertical lines, but with this cotton print fabric, I decided to cut on the fold. I would have felt guilty about not matching the print down the center front where it would be obvious. Just kidding. I would have matched the print. But why? So that the center front seam won't be so visible? Yeah, cut it on the fold.



The sleeve is an interesting draft - far more than I expected from such a simple pattern. It has a high sleeve cap and requires much fiddling to fit into the armscye. The sleeve hem also has a graceful curve to it - something I almost never see in a pattern with such a plain sleeve. I am impressed.



I've followed the Grainline blog for a while and I also enjoy her posts on Instagram. The Archer shirt has 127 (!) reviews on Pattern Review. And they named it a Best Pattern for 2013, 2015, and 2016. I think I'll try it next.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Stitching in New England



It's gorgeous here in New Hampshire. The leaves haven't reached their full glory but you can tell it's coming. I moved from Austin, Texas to Princeton, New Jersey back in the 80's. It was a big shock to this Texas gal, but I do have fond memories of the fall colors, especially mums like these.



The colors in my latest ensemble form a background for autumn colors. With the right jewelry or scarf or jacket this will be a favorite for me, I think. Both pieces are made with Sewing Workshop patterns - the Helix pants and the Odette top.



The Helix pants are a rayon ponte in a color I'd call caramel. Yum. I cut them out before heading north. These are such an easy make, a great basic. They are just right for sewing under less-than-ideal circumstances - away from home, no access to my stash of thread, chalk, and other supplies.



I did not have the right thread but made do. I have found that it's super important to use polyester thread on knit pants. I've tried them with cotton thread, but it's just too easy to place my foot in the wrong place and pop the side seams while slipping into them. Polyester is much stronger and better for knit pants, I think. The closest color I had on hand was a dark green which was fine for all sewing, except top-stitching. I used some matching cotton thread for the top-stitching.



I brought my sweet featherweight 222K which is relatively easy to carry on a plane and easy to tuck away when I'm not sewing. It's such a pleasure to have and to use. Almost too pretty to use. Almost. Look at that gorgeous straight stitch.



The Odette top is made from organic Alabama Chanin cotton jersey, in a brown just a shade lighter than the rayon ponte in the Helix pants. Again I see this piece as a basic, background for other pieces to shine. The Odette pattern in asymmetric in style. Almost every pattern piece is cut single-thickness. The sleeves are the only exception. Luckily I was able to cut these out prior to leaving home.



Some of the Odette pieces offered a nice place for sashiko. That was such fun. I used sashiko to secure the neckline, as well as all hems. Then I added some to the angular seams. Not sure that was a great idea but I can always remove the sashiko that crosses my belly.


Although the sewing has not been the same as it is in my home studio, it has been fun. And look what I found!


So has the season change affected your sewing?




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dyeing

Black walnuts
Lately I've been dyeing. And dying too, I suppose. The process and the results are subtle and unpredictable. I'm enjoying it all.

Rough-cutting some cotton sateen and folding it in preparation for black walnut dips.
Lining for a coat.

Black walnut dyeing has become an annual treat for me. Part of the fun is finding the walnuts near my home. They can easily blend in with their surroundings and I'm only beginning to recognize the trees.


If you look closely, you'll see them dangeling from the way-high-up branches. The recent winds and rain from Florida huricanes have caused many of them to drop. It's such fun to suddenly see them.


Pokeberry is instant gratification.


When I don't find the walnuts, I find pokeberries and goldenrod and lichen. I steamed these on a piece of cotton sateen.



I am learning that slow dyeing may have better results. Many things are like that, aren't they? I am soaking my walnuts and then, very gently, simmering them. I haven't tried to save the actual nuts and feel just a tiny bit guilty about it. The color has me transfixed.


Admittedly I did drop this folded piece in with the soaking and then simmering walnuts. This first piece is satisfying. I also dip-dyed some paper and got quick results - a kind of moonscape.


Here is the steamed pokeberry-goldenrod-lichen piece. Slow stitching is next.


Not every piece is rich is saturated color.

eco-print attempt with leaves from the back yard
But there's always overdyeing to be done.


And steeping.


And waiting.





Friday, September 15, 2017

One white shirt, two pockets


White shirts have a shorter life span than some pieces, I've found. The white becomes dingy and the stains are in a place where no amount of boro design will save them. And so I will cut them up for quilts and other small pieces.

I added a button to an otherwise weak juncture in the construction at each sleeve cuff.
And, as it happens, white shirts are great fun to make. This one is based on a tutorial in Sew Confident from the Sewing Workshop. It is a hybrid of the Liberty shirt and the MixIt shirt. Their version is more of a tunic length but I kept the original length of the Liberty with its deep hems and pretty miters.


If you are familiar with these two patterns, you can probably see that the neckline is from the MixIt and the rest is the Liberty with shorter sleeves. I think the V neckline of the MixIt is sweet, especially when the tiny collar is omitted. And the Liberty hem is always appealing to me. I really like those diagonal seams in the front and top-stitching the facings creates a faux princess line.


The tutorial suggests that you shorten the sleeves at the shorten-lengthen line but I was pretty sure that would make the sleeves too tight on me. So I shortened mine 3" at the hemline and redrew the cuff portion. You may be familiar with this easy formula for redrawing the hem facing/cuff: fold the tissue along the new hem line and trace the side seams.


The fabric is a cotton shirting purchased at Gail K in Atlanta. They have such wonderful men's shirting. This one has a dolby weave so it's not just a plain white shirt.



Of course, Diane Ericson's pocket challenge is on-going so I added a pocket. It's placed too high in the picture at the top but I fixed that. It has an inverted pleat and a flap. The first version was too large so I'll save that for another project. It was fun to just play with a small piece of fabric, folding until it pleased me.


The pocket structure is a little more visible here:


I am enjoying following along with Diane's pocket challenge on Instagram. Hers are always so artful, whereas mine are more utilitarian.


This zippered pocket was added to my jeans vest after I wore it for the first time. Originally I constructed it with only one pocket - the breast pocket. I decided then that I'd enjoy it even more if it had another larger pocket. I was able to harvest a pocket from the scraps remaining from the raggedy jeans, as well as the zipper. The panel above the zipper is from the fly! I simply top-stitched it down, but it does not show much at all on the exterior. I like that it is behind the shadow of a pocket from the original jeans.


Now it's even more fun to wear!